Recognizing Emotional Abuse After Divorce

  • Those who have faced emotional abuse may not realize it until after they've gotten out of a dysfunctional and unhappy marriage.
  • Your family law attorney can represent your interests and protect your future.
  • Recognizing the signs of emotional abuse in the past will allow you to keep your eyes open in future relationships.

Think about what led up to the end of your marriage. The first breaks in your relationship with someone whom you promised to love, cherish, and spend the rest of your life with can seem like nothing at the time.

This phase will pass. They love me. They did not mean what they said. Things will get better.

The more time that passes, the more your emotions become conflicted. Every time you experience the emotionally withholding behaviors that result in conflict, you end up experiencing an intense overload of love, in an effort to make up their poor choices in their words or their bad behavior.

The emotional whiplash may repeat itself with your spouse’s bad behavior and aggressive ways to berate you, until the emotional whiplash of the love and kindness that they had attempted to shower you with become less and less frequent. This can last as long as the cycle continues, until actions are taken that cannot be taken back or words are said that cannot be unsaid.

The cycles of emotional abuse that break down many marriages are not confined to single gender. Both men and women can find themselves on the receiving end of the toxicity, leaving them with distrust, fear, and a variety of possible mental health issues.

Distrust and fear

Some who are in these types of marriages distrust themselves with making any possible permanent decisions, regarding their future. After all, it was what felt like a permanent decision of saying “I do” that led them to this moment.

Others are fearful of making the first move in ending the relationship. If their spouse has become physically abusive, they are afraid of the violence that they have previously experienced. There also is a level of fear involved when uttering the word, “divorce.” Once it is said, it often is the beginning of the end, and the level of uncertainty for what comes next can sometimes quiet the urge to say the word.

However, having someone to turn to is important during these vulnerable moments. In times like these, staying secluded puts you and your mental health at further risk and gives your emotionally abusive spouse all of the power in the relationship.

Legal partner

This includes a family law attorney willing to step up for you and represent your interests, even in the toughest moments. They will be there for you, keeping your future in mind and helping you navigate the process.

They also know a variety of mental health professionals, who will be equipped to put you back together and make you feel mentally whole again. Contacting them is putting all of your needs first.

Spotting the signs

After the divorce is finalized, many look back on their past marriage and wonder if they can spot the signs of emotional abuse. They wonder if their ex-spouse always treated them like that. You wonder if all of the compliments you have ever received from them were left-handed, or if your ex-spouse ever took the time to raise your self-esteem.

For many, these are questions they are forced to ask themselves, especially acknowledging the emotional damage that they took during the course of their unhappy and dysfunctional marriage. Because their needs are finally being put first, they are better able to take stock and gain perspective on the situation that they were a part of.

They may not have noticed the roles that were being played within the marriage. According to PsychCentral, most mental abusers are adept at convincing the victim that the abuse is his or her fault and that they are responsible for what happened.

An abuser’s ability to manipulate the situation allows for the concealing of their intentions. They are equipped to get the victim to comply with the manipulative intent through gaslighting them. They are able to challenge the victim’s perception, memories, and emotions and explain away their intent, without facing any repercussions to their actions.

They are able to follow their abusive behavior with complimentary moments to help confuse and disguise the cyclical dysfunction, before reverting back to their critical, sarcastic, controlling, or overall abusive ways.

These moments of pleasantness make you feel as though your spouse has changed, but after a divorce, you are better equipped to view this behavior more clearly. You are able to see it for what it really is: abuse. You faced emotional abuse. Acknowledging it for what it truly is is a step to overcoming the mental and emotional ramifications of enduring it.

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

Moving forward

Exploring future relationships after a divorce can be a vital step in navigating what a relationship should entail. If you find yourself without guilt trips, extreme moodiness, hypercriticism, or mean-spirited jokes at your expense in your new relationship after a divorce, that is a good thing. Those aspects of your previous marriage are not healthy behaviors that are supposed to exist in the dynamic between two individuals in a relationship.

Seeing these signs for what they are will help you move forward and get to a more emotionally whole place in your life. You got out, but without moving on and getting to a mentally and emotionally healthier headspace, you still will be facing some of the same demons and may not be spot emotional abuse in future relationships.

You need to put yourself first, and that means overcoming these obstacles after your divorce, so that when you move forward, you are doing so with your eyes wide open.

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